Canals span our country like the veins of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. Grooves dug by men of bygone days to shift cargo by boat destined for greater proposals. Nowadays the surviving watercourses of Britain have a more leisurely raison d’etre; namely, houseboats, barge holidays (basically a floating pub-crawl) and day trips. The latter being what we decided to frill-up our Saturday with, a few weeks ago. The charity ‘The Friends of the Cromford Canal’ have taken it upon themselves to restore, maintain and conserve this historical heritage for the benefit of the general public. And, after hearing all about them from the tour we took on Saturday, I was left shaking my head with admiration for the fine work this organisation accomplishes.
Birdswood is the name of the pretty narrowboat we stepped down into the belly of, and took our seats for a relaxing 2 hour canal cruise from Cromford Wharf to Leawood Pumphouse, and back. We sat nattering with friends, nursing our cups of tea, nibbling on some ‘special’ Birdswood bacon snacks (which I’m pretty sure contained no bacon) chatting about our upcoming trip to Madrid, other people’s naughty kids, and aging parents taking themselves off to exotic destinations on their own – all to the soundtrack of the surrounding nature reserve and the gentle flow of water under-hull. All 4 kids were parked on a nearby table, sucking on lollies, having a great time! Before we knew it we had reached the end of the line and were ready to ‘about turn’.
The trip back was sooo interesting – sounding like a Bill Bryson book, our tour guide took us through the history of the canal, dishing out juicy morsels of information and tales of hardship from another era. It captured the imagination and was definitely complimented by the guided tour of the back cabin. The living quarters for a family of 4 have been lovingly restored to their original setup and decoration. It really gives you a feel for how life was for them.
We thoroughly enjoyed our day out and it’s not hard to see why the canal is listed as a World Heritage Site, it’s History is fascinating.
Contact Birdswood here to book your canal tour and if you’d like any more information about the conservation of the canal and how you can help, have a look at their website (Cromfordcanal)